MLB does not like celebrating teams spraying fans with champagne

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Arash Markazi over at ESPN.com has an article up about champagne celebrations in baseball. How they started, the logistics involved and stuff like that.

We’ve seen articles like this before, but this one is more in-depth. And it also includes a bit of newsy stuff buried in the middle: Major League Baseball is getting a bit bent out shape about celebrating teams taking champagne out on the field and spraying fans.

This has happened a few times in recent years, most recently the other night when Terry Collins sprayed a bunch of Mets fans who were hanging around in Wrigley Field after Game 4. It seemed that fun was being had by all, but the league is not particularly happy. From Markazi’s story, after he quotes an MLB spokesman about the clear rules in place prohibiting teams from taking alcohol out of the clubhouse, under threat of the league taking “appropriate steps”:

The problem is, teams have been violating the rules, leaving the commissioner’s office to ponder those “appropriate steps.” Images of players drinking on the field and spraying fans with champagne have become commonplace this postseason, leading the league to contact the guilty parties and warn them that future incidents will result in discipline.

“Things have gone beyond where they’re supposed to,” said one league source. “You just have to turn on the TV and can see it.”

It’s a tough balance I suppose, but it’s a problem of the league’s own making.

Baseball is heavily sponsored by alcohol companies. The signs are everywhere, they serve it in comically oversized cups to fans, many of whom become inebriated by the time the third inning rolls around. What’s more, as the article makes clear, even these celebrations in particular are sponsored by alcohol, with set rules and product placement and everything else. I get the reason for the rule of not taking the celebration to the fans and appreciate that it should be a fairly easy line for players not to cross, but it’s something set in motion in large part by the league’s policies to begin with. If they want to stop it, they need to level some clear discipline beyond talking about “appropriate steps.”

One wonders, if they do that, whether the good folks sponsoring these things might be displeased. After all, they can’t claim that spraying booze at people is not “drinking responsibly.” They underwrite the very practice.